Lying in the Dark
The mosquito netting my mother drew
over our heads was fine and white,
like gauze bandages.
She tucked it at the bottom of the bed,
pulled it up, and draped it
over the headboard rail.
God bless, she said, and we lay
in the heavy dark, shrinking
from those loud, terrible syringes
sucking goodness out of us
(we so much wanted to be good)
giving in return the little welted
blessings of a God who droned
and whistled in that not-sleep sleep
where everything that happened
back before we could remember
was remembered, voices crying,
and the furious pounding
through the wrecked, offended streets,
smell of bodies shifting
in the Underground's carved dark,
the breath-stopped listening.
Bless us! Oh, God bless us!
Then nothing but the long descending shriek.